THE CURLY HORSE
There are many unanswered questions with regard
where did they originate, what caused
them to have curly hair, why are most curly horses
the list goes on and on.
There are theories but so far most of those have
been disproved or at least found to be inadequate
or only partly plausible.
Dispite the lack of solid understanding about
curl in horses there have been a few registries spring
up that may be causing the confusion to worsen. Like
many registries based upon color or physical attributes
rather than genetic bloodlines, these registries seem
to start at the middle and work both ways to the end
but in so doing they may be leaving out or ignoring
vital parts to the puzzle that may in fact solve some
of the mysteries.
This coat is a different
texture and look than a normal foal coat. It was so
dense it felt like cotton and it matted. It was short
and thick looking more like a stuffed toy.
Generally speaking these registries spring up
when a group of people who already have a preconceived
notion as to what the curly horse should be and/or
how it should look; get together and form a group.
Then they begin to limit and/or restrict who can or
cannot belong to that specific group
or wrongly, by using limited specifications. The trouble
is many times these sorts of venues only recognize
the type of animal they are familiar with or perhaps
the type they prefer
which generally also just
happens to be the sort they own!
In the case of the curly horse this attitude may
well be excluding the very horses that might answer
many questions from their group.
There are curly coated horses in most, if not
all, American breeds. That is only logical really
when one considers all the breeds developed in America
are related on several levels. There were only so
many horses and/or types of horses initially brought
to this country from which spring all the American
Rather like a plush carpet
only so soft it was difficult to even feel. When he
shed his baby coat came off in sheets more like buffalo
shed. We call this type of coat "buffalo' coat.
Historically curl in horse coats has been documented
as far back as cave man days! Early cave drawing depict
horses with curly coats. Ancient art also shows horses
with curl in a variety of regions. How would all these
horses relate to the curl we see in horses around
the globe today?
Here I put forth a theory that seems to have some
While researching for my book, "Of Royal Blood-
The Missouri Foxtrotter" I was delving into the
archives at the Library of Congress. I was researching
old articles and stories in early magazines when I came
across one of interest to this subject.
The article was dated to the very early 1800's and
had to do with the parentage of Justin Morgan. For
decades men had argued about who the sire to Justin
Morgan ..aka Figure
was. In this particular article
the author made argument against the Canadian stallion
being Justins sire and states that "Everyone
knows all the Canadians are curly coated with kinky
manes and tails". Giving argument that since
the Canadians were known to be curly horses certainly
one could not have sired Justin because he was straight
Each hair was so fine
it had to be double magnified to show up on film.
Many crimps per inch and when the hair is squeezed
it matted together like felt.
That article peeked my curiosity so I researched
farther back. This time using ancient archives. There
I found a report made by the King of France's emissary
during the late 17th century, whereby he had recorded
everything in French Canada in detail and included
drawings in order to take back a full report of the
regional assets and way of life to the King. This
was likely in order to fix taxation etc but the detailed
report made a claim that in so many words said this:.
All the horses
in the region, including many hundreds bred and raised
by the Indians have strangely curled coats and kinky
manes and tails. This from original stock that were
not curled. The lack of husbandry and severity of
the climate must be responsible for this strange curly
His report to the King came only a few decades
after the first horses had been shipped to Canada.
Those first horses were from the regions of Europe
that produce the Briton and the forerunners of the
. Early Percherons and Friesians. Interestingly
both those types spring forth with curl on occasion.
But the original horses brought to Canada were not
noted for being curly. When they all changed to curly
coats it was notable and remarked upon.
This tells us that horses that had not been identified
as having a curly coat, suddenly produced horses that
were curly. Not only one but all of them.
It is my belief the original horses were likely
minimally expressed cury horses that came from a far
more moderate climate. In those centuries the region
known as French Canada was suffering under extreme
weather that a few years later lead up to a mini-ice
With the horses left out all winter to fend for
themselves they likely revived a dormant gene for
curl. In so doing, not just one horse but all the
various lines of horse reverted to being curly coated.
I also believe those strange kinky manes and tails
were a direct expression of the curly gene that we
see today and disregard.
Foxvangen's Noble Ambassador
At six months he had
shed all his curl . No one looking at him would think
he was curly. Though frizzy and bushy his mane and
forelock do not appear curly to the naked eye. He
It is my theory that when the earth suffered an
ice age the onset of such global weather was rapid.
Scientists today claim ice ages can occur very rapidly
and are normally preceded by a global warming....much
like we are seeing today! Many animals quickly adapted
to the harsh climactic change by growing thicker,
denser coats which often times included wave or curl
for extra insulation.
Many bovine species developed hair on their snouts
like the Musk Ox of today and other animals grew long
over coats developed to shed water and to keep the
thick, woolly undercoats dry.
It is my belief that during this time horses developed
curly coats of one type or another depending upon
regional climactic changes and their ability to weather
conditions that came upon them suddenly. Animals that
could not adjust fast enough simply perished and whole
species died out.
We first saw Maya at
one month, shown here. We
purchased this filly at 2 months of age. Her tail
was very kinky and her mane was softly curled. She
had abundant ear hair and some kinky whiskers. Otherwise
she appeared like any other foal.
Since at that time horses were rather widely disbursed
and since the regions of ice varied in temperature
and seasonal changes, specific groups may have evolved
differently from one another. For instance some may
have developed longer hair than others. Some may have
developed hair that stood up on end more to insulate
against cold where the need to shed water was not
so great. Some may have developed undercoats with
longer guard hairs on top where periods of rain, sleet
or snow were common. Some may have developed less
undercoat or curl where they were at the rim of the
ice area and not so needy for insulation.
As the ice receded horses migrated. Some went
north with the receding ice as grasses and other forage
became available while some migrated south. Those
who went south would surely have repressed the genetic
mutation for curl in order to vent their bodies in
the heat. Those that went north for a time likely
evolved to retain the thicker under coats and shaggier
hair but may well have lost the curl.
Over millennia as the planet warmed most of these
horses would have needed less insulation and therefore
would have repressed that gene which produced the
She developed curls in
her ears and a rather frizzy look to her mane.
In modern times we are seeing weather changes
that are abrupt and rather radical at times. We are
seeing more horses in affected regions showing wave
or curl to their coats. At this same time we are also
for the first time in history, restricting gene pools
and selectively breeding along specific bloodlines.
We see curl coming in many breeds of horse all
the same. It well may be that by inbreeding to the
degree all registries are, the gene responsible for
the curl is coming back to the foreground due to a
compounding of strength. We see this sort of thing
in the sabino color pattern whereby common marked
horses breed true for many generations and then suddenly
spring forth with a multitude of decidedly sabino
patterns. So there is a president for this sort of
That may well explain or at least partially explain
why it is we are seeing curl showing up in such a
broad variety of breeds.
Her mane became very
frizzy and then began to twist. We believe it will
either curl or wave significantly as she ages. Here
you can see what looks like dreadlocks starting to
form in her forelock. Note the curls in her ears.
Some curly registries only seem to recognize fully
expressed patterns that are easy to recognize visually.
For instance horses with distinct curly pattern all
over the body that anyone can see.
It would be a very odd gene to only fully express
or not exist. In fact I cannot think of any gene that
works that way. Genes generally express from very
minimal to fully expressed with a broad variance between
the two extremes. Whether that is due to other modifiers
or restricters is anyone's guess.
Again using sabino as an example. We have sabino
horses that test positive for the SB1 form of sabino
who only carry minimal markings such as a sock and
a star. On the other hand we have many sabinos that
express fully and are maximum expressed white horses.
From a distance she looks
like any other five month old foal. She tests hypoallergenic.
Between those two extremes there are horses with long
stockings and bold face markings, horses with belly
spots, horses with white ticking in their coats, horses
with fullyl roaned coats due to sabino, horses with
patches of white on the body, horses with leg patches,
horses with full spotted coats, horses with feathery
lacing, horses with crisp Tobiano-like markings, horses
a host of expressions yet all
Why, then would we expect curly to express only
in a maximum fashion?
There are horses that have slight wave to their
hair coat, horses with curls in their ears, horses
with curled or kinky whiskers, horses with curly manes,
horses with curly leg hair, horses with curly eye
lashes, horses with patches of curl or wave, horses
with mild waving, horses with seasonal wave, horses
with seasonal curl
and yet none of these horses
are being accepted as curly unless they come from
a bloodline already recognized by these registries
as being curly
as if the only curly horses on
the planet have already been identified?
Since no one has identified a genetic marker for
curl as yet all this is up for conjecture however
my theory on this involves a possibility which is
logical considering all other genes show variations.
My theory also allows there may be a number of different
mutations of the gene. That may and likely does affect
expression not only of pattern of curl, but possibly
the extent to which the horse expresses. For instance
I believe there will be a link found between curly
or wavy manes and the curly gene.
Again, using sabino as an example, we know there
are a number of specific mutations for the gene. To
date the only mutation there is a test for is the
SB 1 sabino gene. That variant of the gene produces
patterns very similar if not identical to other horses
that test negative for SB1. The researchers claim
there are at least 5 various mutations to sabino and
possibly more. SB2 should have a test soon but there
is also a variety of sabino seen in Arabians that
differs from others, a variation in Thoroughbreds
that is different from others, and there is a draft
type such as seen in Clydesdales and Shires that looks
almost identical to SB1 yet tests negative to that
If we applied that theory to curl it would be
easy to understand how some of the varieties and degree
of curl shows in horses not currently accepted in
Foxvangen's Toy Boy
ToyBoy has dreadlocks
for a mane and a very wavy tail but does not appear
curly except on very cold or snowy winters. He produces
a high number of minimal curly foals.
In my own Missouri Foxtrotters we see a variety
of curl. Curl that would not be accepted by any of
the curly registries( we have never attempted to register
them but have been told by many they would not qualify)
yet for want of a different term these horses are
curly. It is far easier to say curly than "hair
that is not straight".
Most of these horses are born with some form of
curl or wave. In particular we see waves that are
generally very pronounced but can be quite shallow,
along the spine and across the rump of newborns. Some
of these foals as their coat grows out become curly
as little lambs with silky dense coats that spring
to the touch and have tiny curls or ringlets. The
texture is so soft it is akin to wool on a lamb and
the hair can be woven. Under magnification this hair
is exceedingly finer than common horse hair and is
on a grade level of fineness equal to Alpaca wool.
On colder, wetter winters
these tufts become actual curls as his hair gets longer
In addition, these horses when tested by persons
suffering from allergies to horses, find these individuals
tolerable and do not suffer reactions from rubbing
the hair on their skin.
It has long been accepted that curly horses are
hypo or non-allergenic. Most people accept that as
a condition specific to curly horses.
That brings a question as to how this could be
so and yet these horses are not accepted as curly.
Either they are curly horses and hypoallergenic, or
being hypoallergenic is not restricted to just curly
These flat curls spread
all over his body on snowy cold winters but may be
limited to specific areas on milder winters.
What distinguishes some of these horses from the
accepted curly horse is that these foals with curly
or wavy coats shed to straight hair and never become
fully curled again. Many of them will get slight wave
along the spine in winter time and nearly all will
develop patches of wave or curl on their necks or
shoulders in winter. In very cold or snowy winters
some will get waves on their legs and more pronounced
waves on their backs. But overall they do not get
a full, curly coat.
Our senior stallion, Foxvangen's Toy Boy,is the
exception to the rule here. He develops full body
waves or curl dependent upon the severity of the winter.
He also develops much curlier coat if cold weather
comes in a snap of cold following a warm spell. On
those years he curls all over quite noticeably. He
has a dread lock mane and a wavy tail.
Any attempt to brush
out his dreadlocks ends in wild frizz!
Our foals that we believe to be curly develop
wavy manes. Some are born with curly or kinky manes
that remain curly, some are born with curly manes
that grow straight and then wave as they mature, some
are born with straight manes that wave as they mature.
So far all of these that have been tested prove
to be hypoallergenic.
Our mares who are half siblings to the senior
stallion never showed curl visibly for many years.
One of them produced several very curly foals but
she did not show wave or curl herself other than a
slight wave to her mane. Her sister showed no wave
or curl at all and never produced a curly foal although
many were born with very slight wave along the spine
and across the rump.
In recent years our weather was radical in that
we had a freak severe freeze in May that killed all
the leaves on every tree for many miles. This freeze
lasted for several weeks causing scientists to study
it because they had never experienced anything like
it before and therefore did not know what it would
do to flora and fauna.
Foxvangen's Ruby Slippers
As a foal, our filly
Ruby Slippers was as curly as a lamb. If this is not
considered curly, then what term would one place on
The following winter we had very warm weather
in December but in January we had a sudden ice storm
that lasted for weeks and drove temperatures below
zero with the wind chill.
During the snap freeze in May all the horses suddenly
grew in full winter coats after having already shed
their coats for the spring! Surprisingly, several
of them who we believed to be straight haired grew
that second coat in wavy! EVERY one that grew wavy
also has a wavy mane all the time.
During the ice storm in January these same horses
grew wavy coats and much thicker coats than normal
but that winter some of the other horses also showed
wave that had never shown it before.
This winter, 2009, the sister to our senior stallion
who has never shown curl in her life
owned her for 13 years
has developed waves all
down her neck shoulders and back! The sister that
has produced fully curled foals has developed a similar
coat and her leg hairs are very long and curly this
year. The hair on her legs is at least twice as thick
and long as normal. We are predicted to have a colder
than normal winter with more precipitation than normal.
After shedding foal coat
Ruby was never curly like that again. She has very
wavy mane and tail however and does get waves in areas
on cold winters.
The stallion is all over curled this year . Whether
this change in coat is a result of past years odd
weather patterns or a precursor to what it to come
this winter is yet to be seen.
We had two foals born in the fall. Both were born
with waves and have developed very silky, thick coats.
One is quite short haired with a curly mane and little
wave to his coat but he has what appears to be a plush
carpet sort of coat.
Hobbit was curled all
over at the age of 1 month.
The other colt was born with more wave and a curly
mane. His hair is longer and at first was rather curly
but as long as it's getting the curl is pulling out
of it. His mane and tail are very curly. I have no
doubt they will also test hypoallergenic.
A totally unrelated bloodline is producing waves
that lay flat against the body with hair growing in
many different directions more like a patchwork quilt.
VERY fine hair yet less undercoat. These horses also
have wavy manes and wavy leg hair.
On very cold winters
Ruby shows a slight wave on her neck and shoulders.
The hair is very short and silky one has to look closely
to actually see the wave.
The point is that if these are not curly then
what does one call them? This is not the result of
disease such as Cushings and is not the result of
diet. It is certain that climate and weather plays
a part in the expression but there is no explaining
the lack of straightness to the hair other than to
say it is wavy or curly.
A lady by the name of Bunny Revaglia began looking
at horse hair under magnification and has noted that
all horses have some hairs that curl. This may well
support the theory of ice age curl and the repression
of that gene. It may also illustrate how it is that
curl can spring forth in such a wide variety of breeds.
In her examination of hair from one of our lamb's
wool foals she noted there was so much crimp the hair
is like a hack saw blade, that the eye only saw the
hair as straight. This may illustrate that some of
the curliest horses may actually appear straight haired
to the naked eye.
Foxvangen's Tonka Toy
This foal was curly from
his ears down to his feet and felt like fine lamb's
wool. Once he shed his baby curls he never was totally
curly again but developed a dreadlock mane and wavy
tail and gets areas of wave in winter.
It may be that registries are limiting their umbrella
to only horses with specific types of curl and in
so doing missing the greatest piece to the puzzle.
Perhaps another registry should be formed that
is more open in which the hair itself is considered
rather than politics or a narrow plane of acceptance.
Grading the hair itself as well as the overall appearance
of the individual may help open doors to understanding.
In some circles curly haired horses are seen as
defective. Much of this prejudice stems from the fact
some Curly horses shed manes and tails making them
look rather odd. Some curly horses also have skin
problems and balding in patches.
This colt was born with
hair as fine as silk. It was also very short. If one
looks closely, however you can see waves down his
legs and rump. He had these up his back and neck as
well. This is one of the more minimally expressed
It is my contention that these traits are not
a characteristic of curly particularly but may be
a gene linked to specific bloodlines that just happen
to also be curly. We see horses shed manes and have
scant tails in other breeds that are not curly and
we see skin problems in other breeds that are not
In my own "curly" Foxtrotters we have
none of those issues. Our horses have very full and
long manes and tails and so far do not have skin problems
or balding. We have owned them all for more than 13
The lighting was poor
but you can still see the waves running up his rump
and the extremely curly tail.
In an experiment I did with one visiting curly
mare that had balding problems, I found by feeding
her a diet rich in protein she regrew hair where she
had not done so for many years. It would appear these
horses with balding/shedding problems may require
more protein than average. Perhaps they do not utilize
or uptake proteins in a normal fashion.
The fact the mare grew hair where she had not
done so for years illustrates to me that there is
a function in metabolism that isn't quite normal and
has nothing to do with the curl to the coat.
Many of the studies that have been done on the
curly coat were flawed in that the data fed the researchers
was incorrect. One such theory was that horses stemming
from Golden Governor breeding that had him on both
the top and the bottom of the pedigree would shed
He had odd wavy patches
on his neck and other areas that could not be brushed
down flat. When he got wet his hair all kinked up
like a new permanent wave.
The flaw to that theory is that the horses given
as only having Governor on one line actually also
had him on both top and bottom. The person putting
forth that data had simply not gone back far enough
on the pedigrees and therefore had given the researchers
incorrect data from which to base theory.
It is a known fact that Golden Governor produced
curly foals. He was owned by Dale Esther who told
me this himself. Dale hated curly horses so he shot
every one born on his ranch. He claimed some were
born curly and others developed curl as they matured.
Some as late as three years of age. This is consistent
with what we see in our own horses and all our horses
trace to Golden Governor.
Titan's mane was a mass
of frizzy kinky curls and his ears had tight little
curls massed inside.
The next winter his ears
were so full of hair we were surprised he could hear!
Eventually they developed slight curl that you can
just see the beginnings of at the lower edge of the
Golden Governor had a normal mane but that mane
was wavy. He did not show curl or Dale would never
have owned him but had he had a patch or a very slight
wave down the back I doubt it would have been seen
or accepted as being curly. Because he did not show
full curl many of those in the curly circles felt
the curly gene had to be a recessive gene. That would
be a flawed assumption however if Governor expressed
his curl the way most of our horses do.
Governor produced curly foals from so many of
Dale's mares it would be virtually impossible to think
each of those mares was actually a recessive curly.
They would need to have been if the recessive gene
theory were correct!
Golden Governor covered hundreds of mares. In
fact Dale told me there were some years he covered
over 100 mares in ONE year! He produced curly foals
from many, many mares both in Dale's own brood band
as well as in outside mares. This rather disproves
the theory he was a recessive curly carrier because
to be so would mean all those mares had to also be
recessive curly carriers!
Golden Rawhide,son of Golden Governor, according
to Dale, produced even more curly foals than did Golden
In my own research I have also linked curl to
Merry Boy and his sons. These horses express differently
from those stemming from Golden Governor or Golden
Titan's mane and tail
look like a bush baby and are frizzy curls all over
and he has curls in his ears but no curls on the body.
He tests hypoallergenic.
These two lines at least have brought curl to
the Missouri Foxtrotter and there may well be more
lines not yet identified as well. I believe there
are likely many more "curly" carrying horses
in the Missouri Foxtrotter breed than anyone realizes.
I believe they are so minimally expressed that the
average person passes them over without realizing
what they are.
The logic behind some of this is that the real
curly looking curly horses are still hypoallergenic
when they shed their curls in summer. They appear
straight haired in summer. The minimally curled horses
such as are shown here, have clues to what they are,
but those clues are subtle and often overlooked! Yet
the horses are testing hypoallergenic all the same.
On normal winters this
mare only has patches of wave on her neck and shoulders.
It resembles a cow lick but isn't. It cannot be brushed
to lay flat and yet in summer her hair is normal.
Our "curly" horses
seem to be very subject to weather related changes
in their coat pattern. On mild winters they may show
no curl at all, yet in harsher winters they may curl
This particular mare never
showed full -body curl in all the 14 years we'd owned
her until we had a freak severe freeze following a
very warm spell. That year she waved all over her
body including legs and ears.
This supports the theory
regarding ice ages and adaptation to climate. Many
curly horses from the north soften or straighten their
curl when they move to a warmer climate of the south.
What we see in ours is not unlike that except ours
do not look like brillo pads or real curly ever.
Many of our horses that
appear to have straight hair, will wave or kink up
the hair when it gets wet. This wave may last several
days after they dry and then straighten out again.
Are these clues to being curly?
We believe it is not so
much how cold the weather gets but how rapidly there
is a drastic weather and temperature change that triggers
the development of curl.
We witnessed such a thing
two years ago when in May we suddenly were thrust
back to temperatures ranging around 0 with chill factors
well below zero after mild 75 to 80 degree spring
weather. The horses instantly grew new winter coats
and many came in curly. Horses that had never shown
body curl before suddenly became wavy or curly.
This mare developed waves
all over her body after a freak freeze came in May
following a very warm and mild spring!
If curly seekers only look
for obviously curled horses they may be missing the
largest part of the curly population! All the horses
shown here have tested hypoallergenic. They each have
some form of curl or wave to their body and they all
develop wave or curl to the mane and tail.
It can take 3 years or more
for the manes to develop waves or curl, and some horses
will only get waves in specific areas of their body.
Most common seems to be the neck/shoulder area and
along the spine.
horses tend to have a flat wave while others have
a springy curl or wave. Some horses have deep waves
and some have shallow waves. Hair texture is nearly
always super fine.
We did not go out looking
for curly horses particularly. In fact we didn't know
we had any until someone showed us our stallion was
curly. We simply became interested. None of my family
has allergies to horses. We did not set out to breed
for curl and we do not advertise our horses as being
curly. We had no ax to grind and didn't need to "make"
our horses appear curly. We were simply interested
in what we were finding.
The bonus came in the fact
these horses ARE hypoallergenic. What a great gift
if we can help someone allergic to horses enjoy ownership
in a horse they can tolerate!
Gambler's Jasmine at age
This mare has a very
wavy mane and tail. Normally she has a patch of wave
on her neck and shoulder in winter which we thought
was just a bit odd. We owned her 14 years before we
had a severe freak freeze come in May. She suddenly
grew a whole new coat and was wavy from ear tip to
feet! No one would have guessed. She has tested hypoallergenic.
If there are curly horses
being overlooked because they don't look curly all
over, what a pity that would be. Many people prefer
a sleek look to a horse. If they could have the horse
of their dreams and still have the hypoallergenic
qualities would that be a bad thing?
Foxvangen's Pharaoh at one
This colt had a very
straight mane as a yearling. There was perhaps just
a very slight wave to some of it but when brushed
it hung straight as a string.
This next horse came out
of one of our mares we didn't think was curly. She
has not shown any signs of it in the 13 years we have
owned her up until this year, 2009. I'm sure she must
have been expressing some way that we simply have
overlooked but since we had such a freak freeze a
year ago and then last winter had a severe ice storm
and extreme weather, we believe it has triggered some
of these horses to express more fully. This year we
got cold weather sooner than normal and it came as
a cold snap folloing a very warm fall. This year the
featured horse's dam has waves all down her neck and
This particular horse, Foxvangen's
Pharaoh, showed no signs of curl for the first three
years of his life that we could see. On his third
winter he developed waves all down his spine. Shallow
waves because even in winter our horses have very
short, though extremely dense, coats.
At the age of three,
Pharaoh began to develop tight curls in his mane and
the long part of the mane got a very distinct wave
to it. His tail also began to wave. He developed waves
on his neck, shoulders and along the spine. The curly
mane hair grew in at the base of his mane both on
top and on the bottom. His long mane did not shed
so these curls sat more or less on top.
The next spring he began
developing curls in his mane almost like he was going
to grow a new mane without shedding his first mane.
The curls were very tight and kinky. His existing
mane began to get some wave to it. His mane is very
long and heavy so it may not show the wave as much
as it would if it were not quite so long. His tail
began to wave also. We found this odd considering
the long hair in both mane and tail grew out straight
That winter, he developed
waves on his shoulders and neck as well as down his
spine. His fetlock hair which is very short began
Pharaohs waves are very
similar to those on Jasmine above yet they are not
related except many generations back. Both trace to
Golden Governor many times. Neither sheds their mane
or tail and both have now been tested hypoallergenic.
The way Pharaoh developed
his "curl" is consistent with what Dale
Esther had told me about some of the offspring from
Golden Governor and Golden Rawhide. He said some were
born curly, some became curly at weanling age, and
some didn't develop curl until they were 2 or 3 years
This experience has taught
us that perhaps when looking for hypoallergenic horses
or if you will...curly horses... one should be paying
more attention to the subtleties rather than the obvious.
In so doing it may become easier to get a total picture
as to just how curly works.
Clues to curly horses
may be as subtle as a curly fetlock. Pharaoh developed
curl in his fetlock at age 3.
Because some "curly"
horses express so minimally as to be overlooked, some
people have gotten the impression the Curly gene is
a recessive trait. We do not believe that is so. We
say that because ours pass along as a dominant or
perhaps a polygene acting as a dominant.
We do not believe there
are multiple genes that all cause curly horses. There
may well be more than one mutation of the SAME gene,
but we do not believe some are recessive and some
There is one school of thought
that believes those who shed manes are recessive curly
horses. We contend that the shedding of manes is likely
a separate gene and that may well be recessive on
it's own. It may link to the curly gene but we do
not believe the two genes are the same. Were that
true then all curlies would shed manes and as you
can see by this photo ours simply do not.
Foxvangen's Pharaoh at age
No one would think this
horse is a curly unless they looked at his subtle
expression. He has a very long, full mane and tail
that he does not shed. In winter he waves on his back,
neck and shoulders. He has curl to his fetlock hair
and he has curls and waves in his mane. At first glance,
however, he simply does not look curly. He has tested
It has never been our intent
or purpose to produce curly horses. We came by them
rather by chance. So far within our herd of 23 horses
we have identified at least three variants of pattern
and have identified many subtle expressions commonly
overlooked by the masses.
We have adopted the habit
of photographing all our foals from birth up, specifically
looking for subtle clues to curl since we know they
may well lose those clues for a time during their
This particular foal is
the son of Ruby Slippers, above. He was born with
distinctive waves up his back and down his hind legs.
He mane was curly and his tail was very curled. He
developed into a very long coated foal which is unusual
for ours. His coat was more like fur than hair and
had the feel of fine silk. When he shed he shed straight
and will likely not show more than subtle clues to
his curly gene at maturity.
This colt was born with
the typical wave pattern we see in a large majority
of our foals.
So far we have produced
curly foals from six separate Missouri Foxtrotter
stallions from our mares. Does that mean all the stallions
are curly or are all our mares curlies in disguise?
We have produced curly foals from Montana's Blue Nugget
P. out of a daughter of Jasmine. Nugget traces to
Golden Governor and Golden Rawhide.
We have produced curly foals
from Dan'Na's Magni, who traces to Golden Governor.
Both these stallions showed
extremely subtle hints they might be curlies in disguise.
Nugget had curly fetlock hair and very thick, downy
hair in his ears. Nugget had a bush baby mane as a
youngster that turned wavy as he matured and he had
curled fetlock hair. Magni had extremely thick ear
hair, curled fetlock hair and wave in his mane.
We produced curly foals
from Foxvangen's Braveheart Two. Two had curl to his
fetlock hair and he had a patch of wave on his neck/shoulder
area. Later in life his owner said he has developed
some curl to his extra long mane. He is also the sire
of Ruby Slippers, Pharaoh and Solaris!
At 9 months Caledon does
not look curly. He has slight wave to his mane and
tail. He will likely develop subtle expression like
his sire with only patches of light wave as he matures.
He has tested hypoallergenic.
We produced curly foals
from Foxvangen's Pharaoh. He only produced a few foals
before being gelded but all of them showed waves like
those above at birth. He is also the sire to Titan
seen above on this page.
We produced curl from Foxvangen's
Solaris who shows curl even more minimally than his
brother Pharaoh and yet he has produced the foal above
and two others that are showing curly expression.
We have produced curl from
Foxvangen's Toy Boy, the roan stallion shown above.
He is sire to Foxvangen's Braveheart Two and grandsire
to both Foxvangen's Pharaoh and Foxvangen's Solaris.
What does this tell us?
That the gene is passing along in a dominant fashion
and that it can express differently in each generation.Foxvangen's
Toy Boy produced Foxvangen's Braveheart Two. A horse
as subtle as Foxvangen's Braveheart Two, produced
an extremely curly foal...Foxvangen's Ruby Slippers
and she in turn produced Foxvangen's Caledon. This
is passing as a dominant yet some of those horses
are so minimally expressed as to be quite overlooked
so it becomes a surprise when suddenly a foal is born
our jr. stallin shows minimal curl in his mane, kinky
whiskers, curl in his fetlock hair, and a patch of
wave/curl on his shoulder/neck area in winter.
Foxvangen's Solaris is our
jr stallion. He is grandson to Toy Boy and half brother
to Pharaoh. Solaris is likely our most minimal "curly"
horse with very subtle expression. He is just now
four years old and has only 4 foals on the ground
so far but all of them have come with curl. This does
not mean he is homozygous for curl, our numbers are
so small as yet we are just likely seeing a disproportionate
number so far.
He is presented here in
order to illustrate just how subtle a horse can get
in it's expression of curl....or at least what we
perceive to be curl.
Hobbit had waves all down his back and legs as
well as on the forehead at birth. His tail and mane
were very curly. His dam is Ribbon who has extremely
straight hair when looked at under magnification.
At a month Hobbit's coat had grown long enough
to curl. It developed into a lambs wool curly coat
which had to come from his sire, minimally expressed
Druid had waves similar to Hobbit but he also
had long guard hairs over his waves. The guard hairs
were mostly straight. We had not seen this sort of
foal coat pattern before. He developed into a very
short haired baby with the thickest coat we've seen
to date...very like Toy Boy gets in winter except
Sarafina had crimps and waves in patches all over
rather than just down the back and rump etc. The waves
made an interesting pattern in her upper flank.
Caledon is shown on his own on this page. As they
develop each has a unique coat type and are not real
similar to one another.
This illustrates that even among closely related
horses the hair wave pattern can vary greatly.
The market for curly horses is good and the horses
bring good prices. Many people prefer to see sleek
horses rather than wooly ones, they are actually looking
for the hypoallergenicity to the horse. Therefore
if some "curly" horses appear smooth coated
rather than woolly they would fill a need in the allergic
community for horses that can be tolerated.
Perhaps this quality is feared by those breeding
the woolly type, but clearly there is a market for
both types. The important thing is to understand there
is a broad range of expression in curly just as there
is in any other gene. The key to understanding is
to learn to detect those with the most minimal of
One must accept that either curly coats have nothing
to do with being hypoallergenic....or.... curly coated
horses may be extremely minimally expressed. Because
those who to the average eye look straight coated
still test as hypoallergenic.